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Recent research suggests vitamin D deficiency may relate to restless legs syndrome

Posted on: June 11, 2014   by  Vitamin D Council


A new study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment has found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased prevalence of restless legs syndrome.

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by the involuntary movement of the legs accompanied by discomfort in the legs. RLS is considered to be a sleep disorder as it occurs during rest periods in the evening and late at night, and symptoms are usually improved by movement. Prevalence of RLS among adults ranges from 4% to 29% in industrialized countries.

The development of RLS is thought to be related to neurological dysfunction. It has been suggested that Vitamin D helps regulate nervous system function and therefore may play a role in RLS.

Despite this purposed connection, very few studies have looked at whether vitamin D plays any role in RLS. Some of these studies been reviewed in one of our previous blog posts.

Recently, researchers recruited 155 patients for a study to determine the relationship that vitamin D may play in RLS.

They measured vitamin D levels and grouped patients on whether they were vitamin D deficient (defined as having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml) or not deficient (defined as having levels equal to or greater than 20 ng/ml). In total, 36 patients were defined as deficient, while the remaining 119 patients were defined as not deficient.

The researchers found that 50.4% of the vitamin D deficient patients had RLS compared to 6.7% of patients with normal levels. According to their analysis, vitamin D deficiency was significantly related to prevalence of RLS.

The researchers also found that those with vitamin D deficiency reported having more symptoms as defined by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale (IRLS), a questionnaire used to define severity of RLS.

“In conclusion, our findings may support an association between vitamin D deficiency and RLS. Vitamin D deficiency should be considered in RLS patients, particularly those who have been diagnose with idiopathic RLS,” the researchers stated.


Oran, M. et al. Possible association between vitamin D deficiency and restless legs syndrome. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2014.

5 Responses to Recent research suggests vitamin D deficiency may relate to restless legs syndrome

  1. [email protected]

    VitaminDWiki has the full study, along with charts and tables, and >1800 other web pages which mention Restless Legs. http://vitamindwiki.com/tiki-index.php?page_id=5426
    By the way, this particular study concluded that restless leg syndrome was 5X more likely in those with low level of vitamin D.

  2. Rita and Misty

    I say my below comments with sincerity, but I’m certain that my statements will bring a horse laugh to many in our readership:

    Perhaps vitamin D deficiency makes all health conditions worse.

    That’s like a no-brainer statement. (yikes)

    Yet, it seems very dumb to me for researchers to look at someone with a 25(OH)D level of under 20 ng/ml and expect anything other than poor health–for whatever condition is under scrutiny.

    It’s interesting to note that RLS also has a magnesium deficiency connection to it.

    Seems to me that our bodies require many essential nutrients in order to function at optimal level.

    Very interesting graphic here on this blog. What’s that gal supposed to do once she climbs over the barbed wire fence–jump 7ft down off the top of that ladder? Hope she knows how to land like a cat.

  3. Ted

    actually it looks like a stile – there is a ladder on both sides

  4. Rita and Misty

    Thanks, Ted. Now I do see rungs on the other side as well 😉

    Perhaps, though, it would be easier for the lady to use a pair of wire cutters…like a surgeon.

    Regarding this interesting study on RLS, I wonder if any of our readers belong to the Movement Disorder Society (MDS). This organization might be interested in further pursuing vitamin D with respect to RLS, or even other movement disorders.


  5. Michael

    Restless Leg Syndrome is a bit of an understatement. It is like naming a volcano “Wisp of Smoke Syndrome”.

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